Junction Sculpture Being Revived


A makeover of Spaghetti Junction - in particular the one way Hobson and Nelson streets would be welcome.

But at least the tired Pohutukawa sculpture marking the southern entrance is set to flower again after a restoration makeover from the NZTA.

The sculpture, located at the intersection formed where the Southern and Northwestern Motorway offramps merge with Hobson, Union and Nelson Streets, was constructed in 2006.

Exposure to a combination of sun, wind and traffic pollution has faded the sculpture’s 105 distinctive stamens from red to pink over the past five years.

The sculpture at right of photo is being revived

The stamens are made of hollowed and tapered fibre glass wands, similar to those used on the masts of windsurfers.   They will all be removed and repainted with paint better able to resist weather and traffic conditions.  At the same time, the site around the sculpture will be landscaped.

The 105 stamens are approximately 5m in length and are set in seven green-tiled domes on top of a block base. The stamens are lit at night by lights at the bases and ends.

Architect Rod Slater of engineering consultants Beca Carter Hollings and Ferner was the chief designer, and the installation work was directed by sculptor Quintin Strachan.





  1. Patrick R says:

    I’m glad you’ve named the criminals responsible for that ghastly edifice…. stick to dull post and beam bridges Beca, It’s as witless and illustrational as it is hideous…… long wanted to blow it up.

    Now more money is being wasted on it!?Sums up NZTA and their priorities: first build a gorilla, then put lipstick on it. Twonks.

  2. Jeremy says:

    It looks like it’s made of cheap plastic.

  3. Owen Thompson says:

    How can you look at sculpture when driving on the motorway? Madness.

  4. Patrick R says:

    It is, that’s why they’re having to re-build it. NZTA love building everything over and over, especially motorways.

    What it looks like, and this is no surprise, is reinforcing rods with safety caps, Concrete, what NZTA does best, and here is a visionless lump to celebrate their plodding backwardness.

    Now I love public sculpture, but it should actually be sculpture, not a clumsy over-scaled attempt at illustration. In what sense, BECA and NZTA, can you claim that this thing is any improvement on an actual Pohutukawa? This is parody; and a contsant reminder of what an nasty mess you lot have made of our city.

  5. Commuter says:

    Egregious rubbish masquerading as something important: a pretty good metaphor for NZTA. The piece should be scrapped immediately. It was embarrassing enough to start with and why it should need ‘renovating’ after a mere five years beats me. NZTA would be seen as a better custodian of public money if the funds allocated for ‘renovating’ this junk were put into something worthwhile like PT, improving pedestrian access, etc.

  6. Nick R says:

    Man freeway art really annoys me. They are forced to install these huge garish treatments to destract people from the fact there is a horrid concrete freeway there.

    It shows little concern for people who aren’t driving on the motorway, particularly as they need to be enormous and brightly coloured to be visible at 100km/h.

  7. Jon Reeves in Switzerland says:

    Out on a limb here, but I actually liked it when it looked nice (before it faded).

    However, I never liked it being placed smack bang in a motorway junction. If it was placed in a more people friendly environment it would be a nice piece of modern art.

  8. Jon C says:

    It feels very dated and designed in a public service environment to try to hide the ugly fume-ridden motorway junction.

  9. mark says:

    I’ve liked it in the past, and I’ll go on the record saying that I still like it now!

    And I don’t think we need to drag the totally unrelated discussion - about whether NZTA is going down the wrong motorway with their transport funding - into a discussion about whether we like a specific piece of sculpture.

    In any case, it’s unimportant to the question of whether Nelson & Hobson should be turned into two-way streets (a resounding yes from me on that).

  10. Lti says:

    Gosh! I am surprised at the vitriol here.

    I think it looks pretty cool. Whats wrong with it? Apreciate it for its own sake, dont let your bitterness for those who comissioned it cloud your thoughts.

    And certainly dont let some higher than thou artistic snobbery prevent objects of interest being put up around the place.

  11. Jeremy says:

    It’s looks like a giant toilet brush but when I first saw it took me a while figure out what it really was.

  12. Patrick R says:

    yeah, yeah, Lti… I look forward to the day when someone with some experience and expertise in the cultural sector is not called a snob…. when a similar level of competence about, say, rugby, or perhaps, prestressed concrete, would never suffer such a lazy insult.

    And, of course, you are free to love it, eye of the beholder and all that, BUT, what is undeniably sorry about this thing is the totally unprofessional, crony-ist way we ended up with the thing. By what process did some journeyman from Beca get this gig? Clearly outside of his area of competency, to me it is symptomatic of the whole way that we have Traffic Engineers as defacto designers of the whole of Auckland. Sorry if I come across as grumpy, but please, it’s bad enough that we suffer them phucking the city with billions of our dollars with their outdated road mania but to have them as self appointed curators really takes the cake.

    One thing to be witless in your day job, but to export those low standards to suck the oxygen out of another sector is close to criminal.

    And that that is an industry already marginalised by the same kind of suburban values clearly on display in this thing, well that rankles….. Other than that- it’s all good.

  13. kris_b says:

    In my experience, people who hate it the most are usually the same people who didn’t have a clue that it represents a Pohutukawa.

  14. Patrick R says:

    kris_b perhaps you need a little more experience?

  15. mark says:

    Wow, Patrick, you remind me of somebody else who constantly whinges to me about traffic engineers. How about you direct your vitriol to those people who actually make the decisions on what is funded? I.e. the politicians, and the voters?

    I’m getting pretty sick of people who have three cars in the family telling me that we engineers are ruining their city. My company full of engineers has one of the hghest cycling to work rates I know of. Maybe we’d like to build better things than just another motorway, but you types keep voting for National or Labour or whoever proposed the latest roadsfest.

  16. Patrick R says:

    mark, quite right, it is the culture that ultimately gives the authority to lineal thinkers to run the show, but you misunderstand my vitriol…. I do try to send it in a much more widespread and democratic direction than you describe. And sure, if everyone voted Green things would be different, but it s very hard for most people to see past what is there.

    We all tend to accept things like the pattern of the city as sort of neutral, not chosen by people, and not, particularly alterable. But then those are exactly the thoughts that forums like this are for, no?

    As for engineers, I love them, especially everytime I get in an airplane or cross a bridge, I say a little pray for the A+B+C thinkers and hope that they double checked their math that day…. BUT, and I know they didn’t ask particularly for this, we’ve handed over a whole lot of our lives to their control, defato, especially we have handed over a great deal of decisions around the shape of the built environment, through the all consuming needs of the car.

    That’s all really, I’m sure many traffic engineers care a great deal about more than their remit, but that ain’t what we get.

    Remember the political trick that got us started on this motorway frenzy in AK was to describe the decision as ‘a technical matter’. I’m just fighting for the non technical outcomes of technical decisions to be recognised, so we can improve this city…..

    And, it is a small thing, but I don’t think NZTA are qualified to choose artworks for us, just because they have a lot of our money, they’re over-reaching here. And, and no one is challenging me on this yet, I am positing that this is symptomatic of the meglomania of their position. They get to shape our world more than anyone, more than our local government, and they have a dangerously provincial minded man whipping them along at the moment.


  17. Nick R says:

    I would agree with Patrick there. The transport engineers I know and work with are very intelligent, dedicated and capable people, and create some amazing stuff.
    But I get frustrated when they end up doing tasks they goes beyond their mandate, things like where you effectively have traffic engineers planning the transport system, or engineers designing public art installations.

  18. Lti says:

    Patrick R, with self professed expertise and experience in the cultural sector is feeling put out that someone thinks they are qualified to put up artwork for us?

    Who is qualified Patrick? You?

    I think expertise in Rugby or a technical knowledge in pre-stressed concrete beats the subjective wank that you seem to be such a fan of.

    Most art installations are going to split people, but why would anything your sort of people could come up with be better than that Puhutakawa thing?

    There are many issues here, but claiming you are the arbiter of high culture is frankly pathetic. We would be better off if that attitude stayed back in Europe where it belongs.

  19. Nick R says:

    Lti, to Patrick’s defence he does work in the visual arts / design industry, so I’d say he’s far more qualified than most people to put up artwork.


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